Justin Adian, Richard Artschwager, Tauba Auerbach, Martin Barré, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Batchelor, Dike Blair, John Chamberlain, Dan Christensen, Dan Colen, Ida Ekblad, Jeff Elrod, Urs Fischer, Jack Goldstein, Piero Golia, Kim Gordon, Katharina Grosse, Wade Guyton, Richard Hamilton, Keith Haring, Hans Hartung, Alex Israel, Anish Kapoor, Paul Klee, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, John Latham, Joseph Logan, Nate Lowman, Olivier Mosset, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Jules Olitski, David Ostrowski, Steven Parrino, Sigmar Polke, Stephen Prina, Ugo Rondinone, Pamela Rosenkranz, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Mira Schendel, Julian Schnabel, David Smith, Rudolf Stingel, Blair Thurman, Charline von Heyl, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, Franz West, Michael Williams, Christopher Wool, Richard Wright
Gagosian is pleased to present Sprayed, organized by Jona Lueddeckens and Greg Bergner.
This extensive exhibition spanning four generations explores the myriad ways in which artists have employed the impulsive yet depersonalized and non-gestural forces of spray. It begins with Paul Klee’s work on paper Seltsames Theater (1929), where he improvised with a blowpipe to achieve hazy background effects in a circus scene. This tentative experiment presaged the bold and diverse artistic license that would come with the postwar advent of aerosol paint as a consumer product and the use of the industrial paint compressor.
From the mid-1950s, sculptor David Smith sprayed enamels over various studio objects and offcuts laid on canvas and paper as stencils; the resulting images recalled Paleolithic cave paintings made by blowing pigment over hands pressed flat. John Chamberlain blurred the lines between painting and sculpture by torquing scrap automobile parts into painterly abstractions, then enhancing the original paint surface with fresh sprays of colored lacquer. Lawrence Weiner’s interaction with the medium resulted in a simple, dispassionate instruction: TWO MINUTES OF SPRAY PAINT DIRECTLY UPON THE FLOOR FROM A STANDARD AEROSOL SPRAY CAN (1968), while Martin Barré tested it at different distances and pressures in a series of rapid strikes producing sequences of stripes and cryptic punctuations on paper.
From the late ’60s, spray assumed a new scale and level of exposure, from Dan Christensen’s vast “post-painterly” abstractions—in which he used a spray gun to create intersecting colored loops of paint alive with cool-tempered energies—and Jules Olitski’s ethereal gradations of tone, texture, and depth to Richard Artschwager’s furtive urban Blps, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s existential aphorisms tagged on New York City walls, and Keith Haring’s exuberant political pictography that covered bodies, canvases, and subways. In the ultimate debunking of Ab Ex posturing, Andy Warhol produced a series of alchemical Oxidation Paintings by urinating on canvases primed with metallic paint.
Artists who came to prominence in the 1990s, such as Albert Oehlen, Christopher Wool, and Rudolf Stingel, continue to both employ and emulate spray in sophisticated painterly compositions that uphold a formal tension between direct and indirect mark-making, free form and control. In recent years, further exploration of this zone between deliberation and contingency has resulted in Tauba Auerbach’s subtle creased canvases, Sterling Ruby’s huge landscapes in which undelineated forms merge with atmospheric neon layers, and Kim Gordon’s Wreath Paintings, which use readymade decorative wreaths as stencils for vertiginous abstractions. Katharina Grosse—a standout in the current Venice Biennale with her entropic environment enlivened with “radioactive” color—underscores the urgent temporality of the medium in intricately layered canvases where the action of painting overlaps and intersects at different frequencies.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by John Corbett and Nicholas de Monchaux.
Sprayed: An Interview with Peter Stevens
Harnessing the gestural, unpredictable, projectile qualities of spray paint, artists have repurposed it as an alternative to the brush, to create hazy textures, drips, puddles, and graffiti-like text. Peter Stevens discusses this history of spray paint as an artistic medium with Alison McDonald.
Lauren Mahony and Michael Tcheyan pay homage to the founder of the New York Studio School.
“Things Fall Apart”: Ed Ruscha’s Swiped Words
Lisa Turvey examines the range of effects conveyed by the blurred phrases in recent drawings by the artist, detailing the ways these words in motion evoke the experience of the current moment.
The Art History of Presidential Campaign Posters
Against the backdrop of the 2020 US presidential election, historian Hal Wert takes us through the artistic and political evolution of American campaign posters, from their origin in 1844 to the present. In an interview with Quarterly editor Gillian Jakab, Wert highlights an array of landmark posters and the artists who made them.
I’ll Be Your Mirror: Allen Midgette
Raymond Foye speaks with the actor who impersonated Andy Warhol during the great Warhol lecture hoax in the late 1960s. The two also discuss Midgette’s earlier film career in Italy and the difficulty of performing in a Warhol film.
Private Pages Made Public
Megan N. Liberty explores artists’ engagement with notebooks and diaries, thinking through the various meanings that arise when these private ledgers become public.
September 29–December 12, 2020
Britannia Street, London